This rather bleak town (10,759 voters), with its long, cold winters is the hub of a few of Armenia's more diverse tourist attractions, among them being the countless petroglyphs atop Mt. Ughtasar, and the 'Armenian Stonehenge' of Zorats Karer. The bitter winter also means a cool summer, which is a nice respite from the heat of Yerevan. The final attraction of Sisian is the availability of cheap and comfortable accomodation. The Basen Hotel has the nicest rooms, for a very low price, and Hotel Dina has very basic accomodation for a couple of dollars a night. Both are very close to the main square (Hraparak).
The history museum has on display 2nd millennium BC pottery and other finds from the Bronze Age cemetery/"observatory" of Zorakarer N of town. In the museum garden, Qaradaran, there are a series of pegan and medieval sheep-shaped tombstones some with Persian inscriptions perhaps a testament to the presence of Turkmen tribes in the region in the 15th through 18th centuries,a Phallus, stone sarkophag. Before reaching the church of Sisavan you pass the prominent Soviet monument to those who fell in 1921 during the Sovietization of Zangezur (i.e., fighting the Dashnaks).
A compact town without too many highrise buildings, Sisian is easy to get around on foot. From the main square it is a very easy walk to the two hotels, the church and the river.
Very cold, long winters are followed by cool and dry summers.
Close-by attractions are:
- Shaki Waterfall
- Zorats Karer ('Stonehenge')
- Ughtasar (Petroglyphs)
- Vorotnavank Monastery
- Aghudi Memorial
- Shamb Warmsprings
- Vorotnaberd Fort Ruins
- Tanahat Monastery Ruins
- The Basen Hotel
- Zorats Karer B&B
- Sisian Hotel
The Basen Hotel has a very cozy restaurant. The food is tasty and reasonably priced. There are other places in town that looked worth exploring, but I have not.
The only options to Sisian are by road, so either by taxi, Marshutni (shared mini-van), bus, bike or the like.
Travel from Sisian to Mt. Ughtasar requires a vehicle with high clearance to navigate the trails to the petroglyphs. Local men with four-wheel-drive vehicles are available to take your there for a fee.
Quality of service varies depending upon who you hire to transport you. One excellent candidate is a local man named Sasun Baghdasaryan (tel. 093821472). He not only knows the area and provides transport but is familiar with the ecology, gegraphy and history of the area. He speaks English reasonably well and his vehicle is safe and well maintained.